nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2024‒01‒15
four papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong, Xiamen University Malaysia Campus

  1. Long-run Impacts of Forced Labor Migration on Fertility Behaviors: Evidence from Colonial West Africa By Pascaline Dupas; Camille Falezan; Marie Christelle Mabeu; Pauline Rossi
  2. An Anatomy of Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa By Pierre-Philippe Combes; Clément Gorin; Shohei Nakamura; Mark Roberts; Benjamin Stewart
  3. Models of Social Payments through Inua Jamii By Alan Gelb; Anit Mukherjee; Brian Webster
  4. Fiscal policy and dimensions of inequality in South Africa: A time-varying coefficient approach By Jeanne Terblanche; Dawie van Lill; Hylton Hollander

  1. By: Pascaline Dupas; Camille Falezan; Marie Christelle Mabeu; Pauline Rossi
    Abstract: Is the persistently high fertility in West Africa today rooted in the decades of forced labor migration under colonial rule? We study the case of Burkina Faso, considered the largest labor reservoir in West Africa by the French colonial authorities. Hundreds of thousands of young men were forcibly recruited and sent to work in neighboring colonies for multiple years. The practice started in the late 1910s and lasted until the late 1940s, when forced labor was replaced with voluntary wage employment. We digitize historical maps, combine data from multiple surveys, and exploit the historical, temporary partition of colonial Burkina Faso (and, more specifically, the historical land of the Mossi ethnic group) into three zones with different needs for labor to implement a spatial regression discontinuity design analysis. We find that, on the side where Mossi villages were more exposed to forced labor historically, there is more temporary male migration to Côte d'Ivoire up to today, and lower realized and desired fertility today. We show evidence suggesting that the inherited pattern of low-skill circular migration for adult men reduced the reliance on subsistence farming and the accompanying need for child labor. We can rule out women's empowerment or improvements in human and physical capital as pathways for the fertility decline. These findings contribute to the debate on the origins of family institutions and preferences, often mentioned to explain West Africa's exceptional fertility trends, showing that fertility choices respond to changes in modes of production.
    JEL: J13 N37 O15
    Date: 2023–12
  2. By: Pierre-Philippe Combes (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPR - Center for Economic Policy Research - CEPR); Clément Gorin (UP1 UFR02 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - École d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Shohei Nakamura (World Bank Group); Mark Roberts (World Bank Group); Benjamin Stewart (World Bank Group)
    Abstract: This paper provides a detailed descriptive analysis of patterns of urbanization across Sub-Saharan Africa for the year circa 2015. Despite the rapidity and importance of Sub-Saharan Africa's urbanization, little is known about the anatomy of patterns of urbanization across the region due to a lack of detailed and accurate official data on urban settlements and populations. To address this gap, the paper applies a modified version of the "dartboard" algorithm to high-resolution gridded population data for the region, which is derived from digitized maps of the footprints of all buildings in the region from very high-resolution satellite imagery. This allows for a consistent definition of urban areas across all countries in the region, overcoming the measurement problems that arise from relying on official definitions of urban areas, which vary markedly across countries. Using this definition, the paper presents evidence on key empirical regularities that are related to disparities across the urban hierarchies, such as the extent of urban primacy and Zipf's law, as well as on the internal structures of cities, such as population density gradients and the number of centers that cities possess. The paper also analyzes how these characteristics are related to key country characteristics. Finally, the paper compares the results with those that arise from the use of an alternative definition of urban areas—the degree of urbanization.
    Keywords: Urbanization, Sub-Saharan Africa, dartboard approach, satellite imagery, population density
    Date: 2023–11
  3. By: Alan Gelb (Center for Global Development); Anit Mukherjee (Center for Global Development); Brian Webster (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: Kenya moved towards electronic payments of social benefits in 2013. In 2018 the payments system for its premier social protection program, Inua Jamii, was restructured to offer most, but not all, beneficiaries a choice between several payment service providers (PSPs), all commercial banks. This study surveys the payment system from the perspective of recipients, including their views on convenience and the benefits from competition. It also considers whether these digital G2P payments programs have increased financial inclusion more generally – recognizing that this was already high in Kenya due to the market penetration of M-Pesa digital wallets. It finds strong support for making payments through financial accounts. The overwhelming majority of respondents consider this to be a good system, with some favoring the commercial bank channel and others expressing a preference for direct payments through wallets. There is strong support for offering choice where this is feasible, but we find that the single payer G2P model can also be effective depending on local conditions. While social transfers may have enabled poor people to afford cell phones and mobile money accounts, the system can be developed further to enhance financial services access.
    Date: 2023–01–19
  4. By: Jeanne Terblanche (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Dawie van Lill (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Hylton Hollander (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: South Africa continues to face high inequality levels despite its progressive tax and extensive social protection systems. We compare the dynamic impact of fiscal policy on the distribution of incomes, wages, and wealth in South Africa from 1993 to 2019. For this purpose, we use a time varying parameter vector autoregression to estimate the impact of direct tax revenue and total transfer spending on three distinct inequality datasets. The analysis of various dimensions of inequality is the main contribution of the paper as the literature typically focuses on income inequality. A second contribution lies in the incorporation of time varying effects which enables the analysis of the changing relationship between fiscal policy and inequality. The results suggest that this relationship is indeed time-varying and that the impact of direct taxes and transfers differs markedly across the inequality dimensions, both in terms of magnitude and sign. Overall, we find that both transfers and direct taxes have not significantly reduced income, wage or wealth inequality in South Africa.
    Keywords: income inequality, wage inequality, wealth inequality, fiscal policy, TVP-VAR
    JEL: C32 D31 E62
    Date: 2023

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